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It Your Home the Set Up or Pinball Listing?

Thursday, August 23, 2012 posted by tommi

What is a Pinball Listing?

A pinball listing is a house that is listed for an unrealistic asking price.  It pulls in a lot of showings by agents and home shoppers, but receives no offers.  Real estate agents, including the listing agent for the home, use the overpriced house as a negative example to sell similar homes that are listed for lower prices.

Any pinball listing is basically a set up.  Listing agents show clients these homes to make realistically price homes look like fantastic deals, which is why the traffic for pinballs is high…but no sale will ever take place until the price is drastically reduced. 

What Happens to the Pinball Listed Home?   Unless it is being used by Realtors as a set up…they stop showing it until the seller agrees to reprice it at a realistic number.

Is it Ethical for a Broker to Accept a Pinball Listing?   NO!  It is not ethical to list a property at a price that an agents knows it will not sell.  If they do, they are intentionally misleading the seller.  Do agents list unrealistically priced houses to use as a set up, anyway?  YES, all day long.

How to Protect Yourself?  Interview several real estate agents before signing any listing agreement.  Get as much information as you can about CLOSED sales prices of comparable homes in your neighborhood.   If you are inclined, you can always push a little on the listing price, but if you get greedy, or try to go overboard…you may unknowingly become the set up, pinball, out of touch with the competition listing…that everyone loves to visit, but no one will buy.

Thank you for visiting  Visit our website for Home Selling Information and Tools, Flat Fee MLS, listings and More.  If you are serious about selling… we can help you get the job done.

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Single Family Home Rental Market is On Fire

Wednesday, June 6, 2012 posted by tommi

                                   The recession/depression and housing crash have certainly altered the old American Dream…at least for the foreseeable future.   The ongoing foreclosure crisis will drive another 3 million families to rent single family homes before 2015.

These millions of people are not typical renters, either.  They are older.  They have furniture, appliances, kids and pets.  They are not interested in apartment living.  They are looking to move back into single family homes, after foreclosure.   This new growth in single family rentals is the fastest growing part of the rental market and the pace is unprecedented.

A Nation of Renters Appears to be the Plan?

Private Equity groups smell the blood in the water.  They are buying up billons of dollars in distressed property, which they will in turn rent back to American families.  Colony Capital, for example, has purchased over 1ooo single family homes since December of this year and plans to invest at LEAST $1.5 BILLION more this year. 

In the next 5-10 years, investment firms will gobble up hundreds of billions of dollars of single family homes, at basement prices.  They will Raise rents every chance they get over the next 3-5 years.  Then, they will dump these properties for a profit and move on something else.

How does a Renting Society change the American neighborhood? 

The combination of transient families and declining home values will take a huge toll on American neighborhoods.    A rentership society is much less likely to spend money on plants, a fresh coat of paint, new carpet or a fenced yard—as they would if they owned the home they live in.   

Renters also mean shifts in student populations and present more challenges for our school systems.  Many schools in the Phoenix area report that 50% of their students will be new this year, a far higher percentage than normal.   Everything slows down when a new student enters a classroom and parents are less likely to be involved, when they are not sure they will be there for long.

Is American homeownership still the American Dream?

Thankfully, the answer is YES.  83% of people who lost their homes to foreclosure or distress sales say they want to own their own home again.  Most say they will buy something smaller than they had.  Many promise they will never again tie up so much of their income for a home.  Many who are forced to rent feel displaced.  They feel that they are living in someone else’s house.   They are fearful of entering retirement without having a home that is paid for…which only owning and paying off a mortgage will accomplish.    So, yes, neigborhoods are changing…new homeowners aren’t families, but are investment firms…but appears for all the right reasons… the American dream is alive… at least for now. 

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How to do a Home Walk Through Before Closing

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 posted by tommi

Homebuyers are always so excited about the day of closing and the move into their new home, but one important step should be taken before the closing.   Buyers should walk thru the home and give it a careful inspection before heading down to the closing office.

  • Schedule a walk through two or three hours before closing,…but, 24 hours before the closing is ideal to allow time to fix anything that the seller missed.  Do not walk thru more than 48 hours before closing.    Ideally, the buyer needs to see the house empty and ready to move into.
  • If the home needed a lot of repairs, it may be a good idea to take your home inspector back for the walk thru.
  • Be prepared for your walk through.  Bring along the original inspection report and the seller’s property condition disclosure.  Verify that all repairs have been made as promised.
  • Turn everything off and on.  Check that all applicances, heating, air, pool equipment, lights, etc. are operating as they should be.
  • Check to make sure all electrical outlets are working properly.
  • After the buyer signs the closing papers, the seller has no further obligation to fix anything else.

A walk through before closing is a crucial step for home buyers and it protects sellers, too.  Although, you don’t want to lose a great home over a  missing $1.00 plug cover, you don’t want to buy a problem that was supposed to be fixed, either.   Check everything on your list and if you do uncover something expensive that isn’t fixed…call your settlement attorney.  They can escrow the money for the incompleted repair and closing can take place as scheduled.

Thank you for visiting  Did you know that you can list your property on the MLS and act as your own selling agent?  You can.  Visit our website for home selling solutions that you might not know about.

Smoke Detector Installed?  Don’t forget your walk through :)

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What a ship….no wonder ‘Made in China ‘ is displacing North American made goods big time.

 This monster transports goods across the Pacific in just 5 days!!   This is one of three ships presently in service, with another two ships commissioned to be completed in 2012.  

These ships were commissioned by Wal-Mart to get all their goods and stuff from China .  They hold an incredible 15,000 containers and have a 207 foot deck beam!!  The full crew is just 13 people on a ship longer than a US Aircraft Carrier (which has a crew of 5,000.   With it’s 207′ beam it is too big to fit through the Panama or Suez Canals .
                    It is strictly transpacific. Cruise speed: 31 knots. 

The goods arrive 4 days before the typical container ship (18-20 knots) on  a China -to-    California  run.   91% of Walmart products are made in China .  So this behemoth is hugely competitive even when carrying perishable goods.      
The ship was built in five sections. The sections floated
together and then welded. 
The command bridge is higher than a 10-story building and has 11 cargo crane rigs that can operate simultaneously unloading the entire ship in less than two hours.

Cost for this container ship…$146,000,000

 A recent documentary in late March, 2010 on the History Channel noted that all of these containers are shipped back to China , EMPTY.

Yep, that’s right.  We send nothing back on these ships. What does that tell you about 
the current financial state of this country?    Let’s all just keep buying those imported goods (mostly, cheap nothing gadgets) until we run out of money, jobs, homes or all of the above.   

Just our two cents here at…. We support American workers, products and companies.  We manufacture The InfoTube and InfoBox here in the USA, with materials Made in the USA…so don’t believe it can’t be done.  We’re just a little company.  If we can do, anyone can.  

Please Buy Made in America, whenever possible!!!

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Paul Choi, a long time supporter of the American worker and American dream, complied a list of Links for People who are interested in fighting the Chinese import tsumani. 

If you would like to Vote for Made in the USA products, please CLICK HERE.    If you want to express your outrage about the outsourcing of American jobs, CLICK HERE.  If you want to reach our politicians and news reporters and tell them what you t hink about the Companies who are shipping jobs overseas, CLICK HERE!!

Thank you for helping InfoTube Fight for American Jobs and Products!!!  Your Money is Your Vote…Spend it Wisely!

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InfoTube, The Hillman Group and China

Thursday, May 26, 2011 posted by tommi

I am very happy to report that the public outcry about outsourcing American products, specifically Infotube and Infobox, to China has been encouraging, enlightening, motivating and best of all…it may be working to save jobs and keep American made products on the shelves.

As a result of your emails, calls, petitions, Facebook posts, etc. some strange things have happened.  We have been contacted by a US Senator, offering his assistance.  We have been interviewed on radio news and talk shows and our story has shown up in print across the country.   And, we still have our fingers crossed that we might receive a call from Diane Sawyer and ABC news about our story and products. 

If you haven’t told Diane and ABC what your favorite American products are, click this LINK and do so, today!  Please don’t forget to mention InfoTube and InfoBox!   

Perhaps, the most surprising outcome, so far, has been our two discussions with senior management at The Hillman Group.  Surprising, because it is happening at all.  Surprising, again, because we are each sharing information and I feel that everyone is sincere about wanting to reach a resolution. 

Rest assured that we won’t give up the fight until we hear that Crow Erickson will continue to sell Infotubes and InfoBoxes to our major d-i-y retail customers, like we have done for nearly two decades.

Sadly, during our meeting yesterday, Hillman management confirmed  that they have shipped some of the Chinese copycat product…identifible by its Yellow lid…to Home Depot, Lowes and Menards.   The retailers, in turn, hung it up in the sign department where the InfoTube and InfoBox used to proudly hang.  

Please ask for InfoTube and InfoBox by name at the store!!  Simply, refuse to purchase the Chinese Yellow Lid product.  You know what is at stake and your money is counted as your vote. 

A concerned consumer may have said it best in their reply to an email they received from the Hillman Group. 

“See, we American voters may truly be powerless, but we American consumers are not.  We are fed up watching big corporations, like yours, screw American businesses, and so if you think this lame email has calmed me, you are wrong.  I am just getting started.”  Cynn Chadwick

If you have a problem finding our products in the stores, you can purchase through our secure our website or through one of our valued, loyal internet vendors….many of whom took action on our behalf…even though by doing so, they face more sales competition.

Thank you again for your support, your comments and your encouragement.  If this little company can find a way to beat the competition over in communist China…then, so can other companies!  

Buy American and Support your Homeland!!!  We aren’t anti-chinese…we are just Pro-American!

Tommi Crow

President, Crow Erickson Inc.  1854A Hendersonville Rd #221 – Asheville, NC  28803.  1-800-858-6000

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I was interviewed on Clear Channel News this morning about our Fight to Save our Company and American jobs from the chinese, copycat imports of InfoBox that are being brought into the US by The Hillman Group, distributors for Lowes, Home Depot and Menards.

After the radio interview, we received a call from Senator Richard Burr’s (R) office to inquire about our story.   The Senator’s office is looking into the matter to determine how they can help.   Thank you, Senator Burr!

Tommi Crow radio interview on Jameson show

I would like to say a BIG thank you to Jerri Jameson at WWNC News Radio 570 for having us on her show this morning.  

Thanks for following our story and for your support!  Please continue to sign our petition and send emails to Lowes, Home Depot and Menardsn telling them that InfoTube and InfoBox SHOULD NOT be replaced with chinese imports.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011 posted by tommi

Crow Erickson—a small, woman-owned company—is a quintessential American success story.  INFOTUBE® literature boxes were invented 23 years ago in my garage in Dallas, TX, to provide Realtors®, builders and homeowners with an affordable way to sell their homes.  

INFOTUBE® was an immediate success and quickly made its way into every major retail home improvement store across the country, where they have been sold for more than 20 years by retail giants like Lowe’s and Home Depot.  Over the years, our company has provided meaningful, competitively paid work for hundreds of disabled and handicapped Americans.

Today, our patented INFOTUBE® and INFOBOX® literature dispensers are used by millions of home sellers, Realtors® and home builders every day. You can find them in neighborhoods across America, very likely even your own.  

Recently, our largest distributor, The Hillman Group, without notice, replaced our patented products with Chinese replicas.  Their decision effectively puts our company out of business and, ironically, provides no cost savings for the consumer


1.  Please copy and paste the following  letter or write your own: 

I am writing to request that your company take a stand to protect American jobs by continuing to carry successful American-made products, specifically INFOTUBE® and INFOBOX®. 

“Made in America” matters to me and so does supporting our U.S. economy. I do not support companies who outsource American jobs to China. 

Please continue to support all Americans including the American companies whose products you currently carry on your shelves. 


(your name)

2.  Email it to the decision makers at Lowe’s, Home Depot and the Hillman Group.  

Drew Strole (Lowe’s) 

Bill Boltz (Home Depot) 

Dan Smercina (Hillman)      

3. Please forward this letter to everyone in your contact circle.

4. For an up to the minute update on the status of this situation and the response of the retail giants, watch our blog, follow us on Twitter @Infotubes or Like our Facebook Page “InfoTube for Real Estate”.

Your voice and your time matter.  Thank you for helping us in our fight save our company, American products and American jobs.  Together we can make a difference!

Tommi Crow, President
Crow Erickson, Inc.

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May 19, 2010, 12:57 pm

Hamptons Listings Said to Be Under Investigation

If Wall Street denizens thought they could escape the specter of Justice Department inquiries by decamping to the Hamptons, it appears they’re wrong.

Real estate listings in the Hamptons are the subject of a Justice Department inquiry, The New York Times and Bloomberg News reported Wednesday, keying off an earlier article in The New York Post.

Several Hamptons real estate executives told The Times on Tuesday that they had been contacted by Justice Department officials seeking information about a listing service that has been criticized as an effort to keep smaller agencies from having access to the area’s best properties.

The service, known as Realnet, allows members to share their listings with other members. Last year, George Simpson, who runs his own real estate listing company, sued more than two dozen local brokerages and Realnet. Mr. Simpson said that because only larger brokerages could afford the annual fee, which he said ranged from $15,000 to $50,000, those brokerages ultimately controlled “80 percent to 90 percent of the exclusive real estate listings.”

The stakes for brokerages are big, and apparently getting bigger, according to Bloomberg:

Hamptons home sales more than doubled in the first quarter, the biggest annual increase in seven years of record keeping, according an April 22 report by New York-based appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and broker Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate. A shift toward larger, more expensive homes pushed the median price up 35 percent to $908,500.

Three brokerages named in the lawsuit — the Corcoran Group, Brown Harris Stevens and Prudential Douglas Elliman — declined to comment or did not return calls, The Times said. Realnet did not return a call and an e-mail message seeking comment.

“The question I think the Justice Department is asking is: Are they putting their own profits ahead of what they should be doing for the clients?” Jonathan Lerner, a managing director at the Engel & Volker brokerage, told Bloomberg.

Gina Talamona, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also declined to comment about the inquiry to The Times and Bloomberg.

By August, Mr. Simpson had withdrawn his lawsuit and said that he planned to refile his case under “different circumstances” and continue “moving forward with the crusade.”

But the original case apparently caught the attention of Justice Department officials. Mr. Simpson told The Times that in the past month, he spoke for 90 minutes by telephone with several department employees about the structure of the real estate industry in the Hamptons and which firms dominated the market.

Members of a multiple listing service post their sales listings for other members to see; nonmembers could be at a disadvantage because sellers generally prefer to have their homes placed on listing services and exposed to as many potential buyers as possible.

John Nickles, a broker based in Southold and the chairman of the multiple listing service for the Hamptons and North Fork Realtors Association, told The Times that he was interviewed on May 5 by two Justice Department lawyers, an economist and a paralegal. Mr. Nickles said that his brokerage could not afford the more expensive system; he pays $160 a month for access to the local multiple listing service that he leads.

Joe Kazickas, owner of an East Hampton real estate company that runs a Web site called, said he was scheduled to speak to Justice Department officials on May 24. He said that smaller brokerages that could not pay for the costlier listing database would find it “very difficult to compete.”

Source New York Times, Edited by Andrew Ross Sorkin

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Cut Real Estate Fee’s and Cut Foreclosures

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 posted by tommi

This article appeared recently in the San Francisco Chronical in response to growing outrage over the exorbident fee’s charged to buyers and sellers of real estate.  

Cut foreclosures by slicing real estate fees

Al Lewis

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

President Obama has often said that it would be a shame to waste this economic crisis. Nowhere is that more true than in residential real estate. Federal home-buyer tax credits up to $8,000 designed to increase home sales and reduce foreclosures are having little impact.  Sales of existing homes fell a record 17 percent in December, while foreclosure petitions are rising. Instead, let’s use this crisis to try a new approach: permanently slashing the 6 percent real estate brokerage commissions prevalent in most markets.

Unlike commissions paid for buying cars, stocks or insurance, these hidden commissions include two payouts – about 3 percent each to the seller’s broker and the buyer’s broker.  But there’s no need for two brokers in real estate transactions.  These hidden fees survive only because real estate brokerage is a cartel.  Forty years ago, you needed one broker to buy a house – today you need two.  In law and medicine, fee splitting is illegal. In real estate, it is required.

Most people would not hire commissioned brokers if they had to pay for them directly – that’s why the brokerage industry wants them hidden.  So let’s eliminate hidden fees for the buyer’s broker.   We could then drop the homeowner tax credit, since the buyer is saving three grand, and replace it with a $1,000 incentive credit.  This cash bonus would go only to home buyers whose purchase prices include a total commission of 3 percent or less (or none at all).

The selling brokers will naturally complain: “We can’t afford to split a 3 percent commission with the buyer’s broker.  That’s how much we need to make ourselves.  So buyers will have to make their own arrangements if they want assistance.”

And that is exactly the point:  Instead of allowing the 3 percent commission to be hidden in the sales price, this tax incentive would encourage home buyers to pay openly for whatever level of assistance they want, if any. Given those other options and the chance to collect $1,000, few buyers would opt to pay a 3 percent out-of-pocket commission – about $15,000 on a median-priced Bay Area home.  Faced with the prospect of paying that bill explicitly, most Internet-savvy buyers would probably opt for personal advice just a few times during the home-buying process, and pay by the hour or by the showing.

Even with only $1,000 of tax credit, these buyers will be better off financially than first-time buyers who collect a hefty home buyer credit, but who still pay hidden commissions.  And taxpayers are better off, too.  Any buyer could still opt to pay the traditional commission at closing – but would have to forgo the incentive credit.

This temporary incentive credit could permanently alter the structure of real estate brokerage, because there would be no going back once the credit expires.  As happened when stock commissions were allowed to decline, much lower transaction costs would create more transactions and hence more liquidity.  Liquid markets will allow people to sell houses more easily before they go “underwater,” thus reducing foreclosures.

Of course the real estate brokerage industry, which has strongly endorsed home buyer tax credits, will oppose this incentive credit. Fortunately, an equally powerful coalition of builders, bankers, mortgage brokers and consumer advocates will be lined up supporting it.

Much lower transaction costs would not just reduce foreclosures by facilitating transactions, but would also increase people’s net equity in their existing homes.  Homeowners would be better off and, at least in real estate, this economic crisis would not be wasted.

Al Lewis is author of “OOBonomics: 12 ‘Outside Of the box’ Ideas to Improve the Economy.”

This article appeared on page A – 10 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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